April 6, 2003
VESSELS OF WRATH AND MERCY
"What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had afore prepared unto glory," (Rom. 9:22-23). God wants to make two things known: "His power," and "the riches of His grace." His power was manifest in the plagues brought on the Egyptians and Pharaoh. The riches of His glory were made known through His dealings with the "children of Israel."
Lest any think God is not fair, let them never forget that "there is no difference" between a condemned Egyptian and a saved Israelite, for "all have sinned." Furthermore God's choice was not affected by their doing "good or evil," or influenced by "him that runneth or him that willeth, but of God Who sheweth mercy." God saw to it that His "purpose...according to election might stand" (9:11). The issue was not salvation of souls but the use of nations to manifest Himself!
All this may seem strange, yet it is not one God Who saves and another God Who condemns. "The Man Christ Jesus" Who became the Savior is also the One to Whom all judgment has been committed. Grace and wrath proceed from the same Source. God's great Power was made known by His dealings with the Egyptians and upon hearing "all the inhabitants of Canaan did melt away." The Riches of His glory were heaped upon Israel, a most undeserving nation.
It cannot be said that "God endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath" if indeed He planned it that way! They did "resist His will" and fitted themselves for destruction as the record plainly shows. That He did "afore prepare unto glory" the "vessels of mercy" is also clear. Dare any say they prepared themselves for glory? Did He not predestinate the believer "to be conformed to the image of His Son"? Does not "His Spirit" intercede for us and witness with "our spirit"?
Those He called from among the Jews and Gentiles are therefore "vessels of mercy...afore prepared for glory." Debtors to mercy can not complain if God sets aside an unbelieving nation and saves but a remnant. Long ago He called Israel "My People" who previously had been called "Not My People." Can He not do the same for Gentiles?
Ivan L. Burgener